Teen Missions International
|Founded||May 7, 1970|
|Founder||Robert M. Bland, Bernie Bland, Gayle Will, Jim Person|
Teen Missions International (TMI) is an interdenominational Christian mission organization specializing in running short-term mission trips for youth, teenager, and adult participation. The organization was started in 1970 in Ohio and was later moved to Florida. They loan money to churches which are struggling financially and include a 5% pre-payment penalty over the course of the entire mortgage/loan. This is not a normal practice in the mortgage lending world. However, they claim that it is there so that they can continue doing their work overseas.
The Lord's Boot Camp
TMI's main, and longest running, Boot Camp is based out of Merritt Island Florida. Boot Camp is a two-week training period in which teams learn basic construction and evangelism skills, as well as cooperation and teamwork. The idea is to present a simulation of the circumstances they may encounter overseas. Boot Camp has to be as primitive as the most primitive teams. The aim of Teen Missions is to train tomorrows missionaries today and provide teenagers with a way to serve God now.
Mission Trip Age Groups & Program Focus
Teen Missions International teams and mission trips are divided up into five different age groups.
TEEN Mission Trips (Ages 13–19 years)
The largest and most popular of these groups is the Teen Boot Camp teams. On average there can be up to 500-600 teens shared between the two Super and Early Boot Camps, which each run for two weeks (with two days of overlap). Teen mission trips focus on spiritual and character development in addition to offering work and evangelism assistance to the host mission on the field. The length of Teen mission trips vary slightly depending on location, but they average between 6 to 8 weeks.
PRETEEN Mission Trips (Ages 10–13 years)
Preteen teams are the second most popular group. Preteen teams have a separate Boot Camp training schedule and also run the Obstacle Course (which is slightly modified for their smaller size). The Preteen program focuses on character building and control of attitudes and actions. Preteens receive classes such as Bible Timeline, personal evangelism, music, drama and puppets. Control classes at Boot Camp include canoeing and bike riding. A typical Preteen trip runs around 4–5 weeks. Trip locations, like teens, are all over the world.
PEANUT Camp (Ages 7–9 years)
The Peanut Camp runs for about 10 days at Teen Missions' Boot Camp. Peanut campers form teams and sleep in tents. They run a miniature Obstacle Course, receive Bible Story lessons and learn about other countries and cultures from Teen Missions' Missionaries and visiting national staff members. Peanut teams learn basic skills building skills in addition to classes in music, puppets and coloring. Peanuts enjoy swimming in Teen Missions pool and visits to the playground.
MUSTARD SEED Camp (Ages 4–6 years)
The youngest of Teen Missions Camps allows the team members to go through the program together with their parent or legal guardian. Like the other Camps, Mustard seed campers participate in group Bible devotions and learn about other countries. They run on the children's obstacle course and learn Bible verses. This camp runs for about four days.
ADULT Mission Trips
Teen Missions also organizes Adult mission trips that travel at various times of the year, most trips run between January and April. Adult trips normally last for about two weeks and most serve at an established Teen Missions base overseas. Projects include community development projects (sewing school uniforms, building grinding mills, granaries, and drinking water wells).
Special Blessings Training (SBs)
Teen Missions is known for their strict Boot Camp training and well disciplined teams. An aspect unique to TMI is their form of discipline, referred to as Special Blessings Training (SBs to staff and team members). Team members serve an SB by serving on an assigned work project during their free time.
Special Blessings can be given for Obstacle Course disqualifications, when late to class or for other policy violations. SBs are given to help team members learn that their actions are important to effective team work and unity during training and on the mission field. A unified and well disciplined team will be safer during travel and at their assigned project.
Obstacle Course (The OC)
Teen Missions believes that it is important to send out well trained and unified teams. Therefore, as part of boot camp (usually lasting about 2 weeks) teams run a vigorous course of obstacles to help promote team building, sense of accomplishment, and reliance on others. Obstacles include Mount Sinai, a very large tire mountain, Jacobs Ladder, a large cargo net ladder, The Slough of Despond, a rope swing over a usually muddy pool of water and the Wall, a twelve foot wall that each member must go over using only teamwork (there are steps on the back for coming down). Obstacles are carefully monitored by staff. Team members learn to run together and to encourage anyone who is struggling. Teams who disqualify (by committing an infraction of some sort) on the obstacle course are given a team Special Blessings Training (an "SB") and forfeit their one hour of free time for an hour of extra physical labor.
Contact With Team Members
Parents receive limited contact with their child during Boot Camp and on the field. Three evening visits are allowed by family or clergy during the U.S. Boot Camp in Florida. No phone calls are allowed, except for two calls of several minutes each "if possible" right before leaving for the field and upon return from the field. Even in cases of physical sickness or medical treatment, parents do not have to be notified, even after treatment. Regular USPS mail is allowed to be sent or received, as well as emails (team members cannot send emails, they may only receive them) during Boot Camp. During boot camp, no cell phones are allowed on premise. Adult leaders on teams (except for one head leader) are allowed to bring cell phones with them when they travel to or on the field for emergency use.
New Mission Trips
Teen Missions usually announces next year's locations in July once the current summer teams have arrived in Florida for training.
Number of available teams varies from age group to age group.
As to be expected, Teen Teams have the largest variety, followed by Preteen, and so on.
Please note that just because a team is offered, that does not mean that it will happen. Teams can be canceled at any moment, for any reason. These reasons usually consist of either lack of interest or changes in the host country or with the host mission.
Most teams serve in work and evangelism, but some team projects are exclusively evangelistic (i.e. Drama, Choir or Sports teams). Work teams go to project locations to do a construction or landscaping project for the host ministry or Teen Missions Overseas Base where they will be staying. The work can include masonry, carpentry, landscaping, painting, plumbing, etc. Work teams do evangelism programs mainly on the weekends when they don't need to do the work project. Evangelism can include singing, drama, puppets and sermons/testimonies. On Sundays teams will take part in the worship service of a local church. Evangelism teams will focus mainly on doing evangelistic presentations. These will also include singing, drama, puppets and sermons/ testimonies; but may be specialized. There are some special mission trips which have a unique ministry focus in ministry or method such as backpack, boat, motorcycle, sports, film or clowning teams.
Overseas Boot Camps (OBCs)
TMI trains missionaries in various locations worldwide, they run 38 Boot Camps in 21 countries overseas. In some of these locations they also maintain relief missions such as the AIDS orphans center in Africa.
Missionaries to America (MTAs)
This program came about as a result of the work of the OBCs in training indigenous missionaries, by bringing those national youth into the US in order to show the remarkable results of their training and to evangelize through cultural performances. The program has done evangelism in most of the US by visiting churches, prisons, schools, hospitals, universities, nursing homes, parks, etc. Because of recent difficulties with visa procurement process for foreign missionaries from developing countries coming to America, a new program of Missionaries to Canada has been started.
Teen Missions was featured in a "48 Hours" episode of CBS on April 12, 2008.
An article was written on Teen Missions in a Feb 15, 2008 issue of Christianity Today.
Florida Today reporter John A Torres travelled to Zambia with Teen Missions in 2006 resulting in a feature called Orphans & Angels
- Anderson, Ken (1990). No Elephants Under Our Big Top. Merritt Island: Teen Missions International.
- Teen Missions International's Website
- Teen Missions's News
- CBS 48 Hour's special episode
- Christianity Today
- Florida Today
- Charity Navigator Rating for Teen Missions InternationalThis article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)